A/N: Thanks everyone for the reviews, I really appreciate them. This part is Kaylee, and next will be Jayne...then Inara. Since we know how the rest of them came on board I won't be writing them a chapter. Those of you wanting to learn more about the Wash/Zoerelationship will see them in the background, but Wash's chapter is over. Sorry, I know how cute they are. :0)
"Momma?" Kaywinnit Lee Frye pushed the front door open with a bang and hollered in the general direction of the kitchen. Kaylee didn't wait for an answer and hurried down the hallway to find her, the closing front door banging against the frame, causing more plaster to flake off of the piece of wall above the frame. She wasn't in the kitchen. "Momma?"
"Kaylee, quit yer hollerin'!" Sammy Frye scolded her youngest daughter, wiping her hands on a tea towel and coming down the staircase.
"Oh Momma," Kaylee squealed, rushing forward and grabbing her mothers arm in excitement. "Ya won't believe what happened today—where's Daddy?"
"Well he's still at the shop," her mother chuckled. "What's so excitin'?"
"I got a job offer," Kaylee squealed again. When her mother's eyes widened Kaylee rushed on. "On a ship Momma! A real ship, a Firefly!"
Her mother frowned. "A job as what Kaylee? You know what they say about the people on them boats—"
"As a mechanic Momma!" Kaylee rolled her eyes. "I fixed the ship and the cap'n offered me a job!"
"Oh, well that's okay then—"
"Can I go?" Kaylee pressed her hands together hopefully. "Oh, please Momma!"
"Well, I…" Sammy hesitated, twisting the tea towel in her hands. "Ask your father."
"Thank-you Momma!" Kaylee squealed again and took off back out the door.
"I didn't say yes!" her mothers voice could be heard just before the door slammed shut again.
"This is it?" Ephram Frye asked his daughter; setting down the large duffle bag he was carrying and looking up at the Firefly in front of them. Beside him Kaylee nodded, not able to, no wishing to, wipe the smile off of her face. Ephram nodded appreciatively, knowing a good ship when he saw one.
"Thanks for lettin' me go Daddy," Kaylee sighed dreamily and looked up at the ship.
"Well I ain't said yes yet," he reminded her. "Told ya I wanna meet this Captain first. See what kind a man he is."
"Okay Daddy," she nodded, just knowing that he'd say yes. Kaylee led the way up the cargo ramp until they made their way into the cargo hold. "Hello?" she called out, not seeing anyone around. "Captain?"
Clanging footsteps rang out from the catwalk overhead and both Kaylee and Ephram looked up to see the Captain and two others following Bester down the flights of stairs. Bester was carrying a large bag in his hands and he looked mighty angry.
"Come on now Bester, it's nothin' personal," the Captain was hot on Bester's heels. They all made it to the cargo hold and Ephram wrapped his hand around Kaylee's arm, pulling her out of the way. Bester stormed past and down the ramp. "Now don't be all upsettable…you just weren't a good mechanic! Don't mean we like you any less!"
Bester swore over his shoulder in Chinese and was gone before the others could say anything else.
"Well," the Captain sighed once and then shrugged, turning his attention to Kaylee and Ephram, a pleased smile on his handsome face. "Glad to see you came back."
"Sure did," Kaylee grinned eagerly. "Daddy this is the Captain. See he's real nice…can I go?"
"Malcolm Reynolds," the Captain held his hand out to Ephram.
"Ephram Frye," he countered, shaking hands.
"Well Mr. Frye," the Captain gestured to the open door that Bester had just stormed out of. "As you can see we're without a mechanic at the moment. I was lucky enough to witness this little girl fix up our engine without blinkin'. I'd be real happy if you agreed to let her fly with us for a while…if' in she's still interested that is."
"Oh, she's interested!" Kaylee nodded and turned her pleading gaze on her father.
"Yep, our Kaylee was born able to fix anything in this here 'verse," Ephram patted her head proudly. "But she's also real young, never been off world yet."
"So she tells me," the Captain nodded. "And from what I've seen first hand, we'd love to have her on board. We got us a pretty small crew, just myself, my first mate Zoe, and Wash our pilot."
"Hi," the man standing on the stairs waved at them and grinned. Kaylee waved back and bounced on the balls of her feet in excitement.
"What's your business exactly, Captain Reynolds?" Ephram asked curiously, placing a hand on Kaylees' shoulder to calm her, but to no avail.
"We run salvage mostly," the Captain replied easily. "Take what transport jobs we can get, whatever the Alliance will let us do…not that we have a problem with th' Alliance…"
"Not to worry Captain, the Alliance ain't must use to us on the outer moons," Ephram smiled. "Well, I reckon if little Kaylee wants to go there ain't much I can do to stop here none."
"Yes! I wanna go," Kaylee chimed in again. Both the Captain and Ephram smiled.
"I'd still rather you were okay with it too," the Captain said earnestly. Kaylee knew that he had just won her pop over.
"She'll be getting' paid right? I don't want her gettin' taken advantage of none," Ephram warned.
"She'll get 10 of whatever we earn," the Captain assured them. "Plus room and board. That's what I pay all of my crew. If we get a nice bonus she'll get her share as well."
"Well," Ephram nodded thoughtfully. "When can I expect to say good-bye to my youngest daughter?" Kaylee squealed loudly, this time dropping her bag and throwing her arms around her father.
The Captain smiled indulgently at the display. "Soon as she's ready ta' go," he told them. "We got a job waitin' for us on Paquin as we speak."
"All right then," Ephram set Kaylees other bag down. "I best be gettin' off the ship so you can header."
Despite herself Kaylee could feel herself start to tear up. "Oh! Well, bye Daddy! I'll miss you," she started to ramble to distract herself, not wanting to cry like a little baby and appear weak in front of the Captain. "I promise I'll write ya' lots of letters. And tell Momma I'll send her a wave real soon. And tell her that good-bye for me, because I didn't really get to say so…oh! And make sure you tell Danny, and the twins, and Bella…and Cammie…oh and pet Tawny for me. Oh! And I promised old Mrs. Shepardine that I'd stop by for tea on Sunday, so you'll have to let her know that I won't be able to come. But tell her that I'll write to her and apologize, because I know it's rude to break an appointment like that. Do you think she'll be too mad? If she is I'll just die—"
"She'll be fine," Ephram assured her, giving her a hug. "I'll tell 'em all. Now git. Go see the 'verse, so you can tell us all 'bout it."
Kaylee nodded tearfully again and busied herself with the strap on one of the bags, so she wouldn't have to watch her father walk away. "Captain," her father nodded once more at him, and then at the man and woman standing behind them before leaving the ship. Kaylee forced herself to look up just as the doors were closing behind him. She just managed to return his wave, and mouth a quick "love you", before the doors closed completely.
The Captain picked up one of her bags and placed his hand on her shoulder. "Chin up darlin'," he grinned.
"Oh, I'm excited," Kaylee assured him. "It's just…I've never been away from home before."
"How 'bout a tour?" he suggested. "We'll show you around, show you your room…you can do to it what you want. And then we'll get up in the sky."
"Okay," she grinned, immediately seeing the possibilities. "Captain Reynolds? What's her name?"
"Oh…who Zoe?" he gestured to the beautiful dark woman that was coming forward to grab her other bag. Kaylee gave Zoe a small wave but shook her head.
"No, I remembered that from before," she swatted his arm playfully and followed up the stairs. "The ship; what's her name?"
"Huh," Kaylee looked around at the high ceilings and metal grating. "She's real pretty. Firefly's a good design…nothing can break them down. Well almost nothing." She laughed briefly at the memory and followed the others out of the cargo bay, the Captain grinning slightly at her enthusiasm. "My Daddy has a shop in town, and we used to see all kinds of ships come in. This one guy came in and his mechanic had his boat flyin' with an old Mechanizer 80 that was busted up from here to Londonium, and he just wouldn't listen to me when I told him that if he'd just start using a point 90 regulator instead of the point 80 he wouldn't get the same---"
"…and this is the bridge," the Captain (who had told her to call him Mal) finished off the tour with a large sweeping motion of his arms. "Where Wash does his fantastical flying."
"Oh," Kaylee nodded and looked around, the same grin on her face that she'd had when they started the tour. Her grin widened when her gaze landed on the array of dinosaurs and palm trees lined up on the pilot console. "Hey! Dinosaurs!"
"Oh not you too," Mal sighed.
"What?" Kaylee laughed and picked up a triceratops. "Dinosaurs is shiny. They're just so cute."
"They aren't cute," Wash pressed a hand to his heart dramatically, joining them in the bridge and slipping into his chair. "They're rugged and manly."
"Of course," Kaylee nodded seriously. Mal rolled his eyes when Kaylee made the triceratops growl. "I am a might dinosaur…now I will eat you," she spoke in a low voice.
Wash sighed and took the dino from her. "He's a herbivore, Kaylee," Wash informed her, making the dino eat a leaf off of a palm tree. "I guess I'll just have to teach you how to play properly later. After dinner?"
"Okay," Kaylee laughed. Mal grumbled again.
"So," he got her attention. "Next up is the engine room—"
"Oh! Okay!" Kaylee grinned again and rushed past Mal, leading the way. Wash laughed at him.
Kaylee peeked into the mess hall tentatively, finding only Zoe there. The first mate was the only person on the ship that she hadn't really talked to yet, and quite frankly the woman was a little intimidating. "Hi," Kaylee greeted her from the doorway, careful not to seem too perky. She sensed that Zoe didn't love that particular trait in a person, at least not a person she didn't know.
Zoe looked up from where she was fetching herself a cup of tea. "Hi there," she smiled briefly. "You want?" she pulled out another mug and held it up questioningly.
"Yeah, sure," Kaylee smiled gratefully and ventured farther into the room.
"I ain't gonna bite you," Zoe laughed. Kaylee blushed and shook her head.
"I know, I'm sorry," she apologized with an embarrassed smile. "I didn't mean to…I just wasn't sure if you wanted company."
"Sometimes it's nice to have a little female company on this boat," Zoe assured her, setting the mugs down on the large wooden table. Kaylee took a seat across from her and thanked her for the tea.
They sipped quietly for a few minutes. "So, you was in the war with the Cap's weren't ya?" Kaylee asked with a friendly smile. Zoe paused for a second, making Kaylee think that she'd overstepped herself, before answering.
"He tell ya that?" she finally asked with a enigmatic smirk.
Kaylee shook her head. "No," she assured her. "But he named his boat Serenity, and you have that look about you, you and the Cap'n. I ain't so young that I don't remember the boys, and a couple o' the girls, in town comin' home after the war. Y'all have that same look, like ya' seen more than ya' shoulda."
Zoe nodded tightly, as if she didn't know what to say to that, and Kaylee immediately felt bad. 'Stupid,' she scolded herself mentally. 'She probably don't wanna talk on that!'
"I'm sorry," she said quickly, trying to catch Zoe's eye. "I didn't mean to be rude…it's just that I can tell you and the Cap'n have a history an' all. I just assumed that that's what it was. I didn't—"
"Kaylee," Zoe smiled calmly. "It's okay. Mal an' me were in the war together. He was the Sergeant of my platoon."
"And now he's the Captain," Kaylee grinned. "Well that's shiny then isn't it? At least one good thing came out of that war."
Zoe blinked at her briefly before allowing a small smile to grace her features. She nodded in consent and they continued sipping their tea in a companionable silence.
"Zoe?" Kaylee broke the silence again a few minutes later.
"You know that Wash is sweet on you, don't ya?" Kaylee asked with a girly giggle.
Zoe laughed. "Yeah."
Kaylee was having such a good time chatting with Zoe that she barely noticed when Mal sauntered into the room, Wash right behind him. "We all gettin' along in here?" he asked pleasantly, opening a series of cupboards and looking for something that he couldn't seem to find.
"Yes sir," Zoe grinned teasingly at him, pretending not to notice when Wash sat himself beside her and pulled a couple of dinosaurs out of his pockets, handing one to her and one to Kaylee. "We were just saying how it 's your turn to make dinner tonight."
Wash let out a small whiny noise and Zoe chuckled at the pout on Mal's face. "I can make somethin' Cap'n," Kaylee volunteered, wanting to be helpful.
"You just sit there," Mal shook his head. "But if you're real eager you can cook tomorrow."
"Okay, I promise," Kaylee agreed easily, which seemed to please Wash. Zoe hid a small smile into her mug and the corner of Mal's lips twitched upwards before giving her a wink and turning around to prepare dinner.
Wash nudged the triceratops closer to her and grinned. "Only if Zoe plays too," Kaylee giggled. Wash looked elated at the idea but Zoe frowned.
"I don't play," she stated dryly.
"Aww, c'mon Zoe," Kaylee whined along with Wash. "I won't tell no one."
"I also will not tell a soul," Mal failed to hide his snort of amusement at Wash's words.
"I get to be the T-Rex," Zoe muttered, switching her stegosaurus for Wash's T-Rex. Wash and Kaylee grinned.
"Because you're scary," Wash picked up his stegosaurus and stared at Zoe dreamily.
"Not so scary," Kaylee grinned. Zoe picked up her T-Rex and held it towards Kaylee.
"Don't make me bite you."
Kaylee's tinkling laughter fit in nicely with the others, filling the mess hall with pleasant noise for the rest of the evening. Both Serenity and her crew flew happy that night.